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One Bad Boss Behaviour Gives Two Timely Leadership Lessons

July 14, 2021

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Photo by Verne Ho on Unsplash

Over the last 25 years as an executive coach and leadership consultant, I’ve experienced many outstanding acts of leadership from my clients. 

Acts that have made me swell with pride for them. 

Acts that have demonstrated that they put their people before themselves.

Acts that earned the trust and respect of their people.

Imagine my disappointment when I recently asked a friend’s young daughter how her new and first casual job was going.

“I’m frustrated David” she solemnly said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Well, my boss gave me my fortnightly shift four days ago, and now she’s changed it this morning.  I’ve already booked to do things on my days off.  She’s taking the time off and I’m filling in.”

I asked, “Is there perhaps a good reason behind that? Aren’t you a casual?”

“No” came the rapid response “This is what she’s done every time.  I’m sick of being the one who’s shift gets changed at short notice.  Sharon (name changed) hasn’t ever had her shifts changed, it’s just mine.”

“So, this has happened before?” I enquired.

“Yes…every time since I started.”  

That means four times over two months her shift has been changed at short notice to suit the boss’s agenda.

I asked, “Have you said anything about this before?”

 “No” she said quietly, “I didn’t want to cause a hassle.”

I suggested she message her boss immediately and explain that she’d already made commitments for her time off.

I suspected that there may also be a company values and policy breach involved.   The company is mature and has a good reputation.

Her boss subsequently changed her shift back to what had been previously planned.

Regardless of the reversal, her boss has most likely lost some trust and respect, not only from my friend’s daughter but also other employees who might be aware.

I smiled when my friend’s daughter said “I would never do that to anyone, let alone people I’m responsible for.  It’s so selfish.”

 “And good on you for speaking up about it in a respectful manner” I said.

That boss delivered a solid leadership lesson of how not to be and gave someone the opportunity to act effectively in the face of a fear.

We are all teachers, whether intentional or not, whether positive or not.

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